Victim tells of abuse ordeal
A WOMAN who was sexually abused as a child by a family friend has courageously chosen to speak out about her ordeal.
Sally Maby bravely waived her right to anonymity because she hopes it will give others the strength to come forward and report similar offences.
She spoke after Mark James, who befriended her through a church in Filton in the 1980s and then abused her, was jailed for his crimes.
When James, now 54, targeted Miss Maby in the 1980s she was ten years old and vulnerable after her parents had split up. He was so manipulative and cunning that Miss Maby had convinced herself he was "amazing" and was so confused she believed him to be her first boyfriend.
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Miss Maby, 37, only found the strength to come forward to police after James was convicted last year for assaults against other youngsters and was jailed for 46 months.
Shortly before his trial was due to start James admitted a further 14 counts of sexual activity with children.
On Friday at Bristol Crown Court he was jailed for a further 14 months for abuse carried out against Miss Maby and three other victims, who cannot be named.
Judge Julian Lambert told him: "You are cunning and manipulative and must never be allowed near children again.
"You are wicked and spoilt the childhood of a number of girls and the sentence I impose will do nothing to put that right."
As well as being jailed he is subject to an indefinite sexual prevention order barring him from working or living with anybody under the age of 16. He must also not enter any school premises or playgrounds or loiter within 15 metres. He is on the sexual offender register for life.
The historic nature of the offences meant the judge was bound by old sentencing guidelines. Had the offences been committed after 2003 the sentence James would have got would have been significantly higher.
In court, Miss Maby took the unusual step of taking the stand to read a statement so that he could hear how his actions had damaged her life.
She said: "It sickens me to admit that Mark is the first man I kissed and could be considered my first boyfriend. He made me feel special at a time I was very insecure. I believed him when he said he was the only one who cared about me."
Miss Maby told the court that after her experiences she had terrible problems with low self-esteem, intimacy, relationships and had abused alcohol and cannabis.
"Often I would cry myself to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night crying and feeling lonely," she said. "I would run away as a coping mechanism thinking it would allow me to start again and get things right but I realised I needed to return to my home city and face my fears."
Miss Maby said she eventually became close to her family again and realised she had to deal with her "past demons" and had "amazing" support from her family and friends.
"I no longer felt alone and decided to work on freeing myself from the demons of my past," she said.
"I have the strength and courage to deal with anything thrown at me but this is the first time I have been free.
"As strong as I am, he has been the one calling the shots until today. I truly hope that hearing this he will realise that after having the power and control he has finally lost it.
"I have no doubt in my mind that he will not have any remorse for what he has done."
Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said: "During the 1980s when the defendant was in his 20s or early 30s he was a member of St Andrew's Church in Filton and took part in activities. He used this to get in contact with young people aged 10 and 11.
"The defendant targeted (Sally Maby) and began to groom her.
"He later told her that he wanted to announce the relationship but didn't turn up to the wedding party where he was meant to do so.
"She was told she must keep it a secret because other people would not understand and said her mother would be upset and would have a breakdown because she would not be able to cope."
Even after her family moved house when Miss Maby was 14 or 15 James visited her, the court heard.
Mr Coombe said she did not make a formal complaint to police for many years but came forward after hearing from family members that he had been jailed for abusing other children between 2005 and 2010. Mr Coombe then outlined the abuse suffered by two other girls who had met James through the church.
In her victim impact statement one girl said: "The incidents make me feel sick even to this day."
Mr Coombe said that in May 2011 James was jailed for 46 months after admitting sexual abuse against three underage girls.
David Hughes, defending, said James had completed his sentence on September 7 but was on remand awaiting the latest hearing.
After the hearing Sally said: "I hope what I have done has given other people who have been abused the strength to come forward. It is a long journey and it can be lonely but there is great support out there and it is so worth it."
The court did not have an address for James but he lived at Mackie Avenue, Filton at the time of the offences and latterly is believed to have lived in Severn Beach.